UDE ALUS Symposium 2019 Abstracts

Lena Mattheis (UDE) “At 5:30 p.m. in Boston, 10:30 p.m. in Marrakesh, 11:30 p.m. in Madrid, 12:30 a.m. in Istanbul”: Simultaneity and Translocal Narratability

Simultaneity is a central concern not only in narratology and urban studies, but also in the study of translocality. Events happening at the same time all around the globe, their interconnections, and the visibility of these interconnections in translocal settings and texts are the crux of any translocal narration. Due to the almost instantaneous transmission of news and messages, global simultaneity is becoming increasingly narratable. Fast travel and diaspora spaces allow for meaningful and agency-oriented connections to form between distant locations. These facets of translocal simultaneity become apparent in the works of scholars such as Ayona Datta, Avtar Brah or Arjun Appadurai, but also in contemporary translocal novels like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2013) or Elif Shafak’s The Saint of Incipient Insanities (2004).

In this paper, I will therefore provide examples from several translocal novels to explore a variety of narrative strategies used to express translocal simultaneity. I will base the categories into which I group these strategies on Gurr’s work on simultaneity and complexity in urban texts and Margolin’s categories of narrative simultaneity. On the basis of these categories, I hope to elucidate why simultaneity is an essential and ubiquitous phenomenon in translocal writing and concurrently demonstrate how simultaneity is shaped to enhance translocal narratability.

Lena Mattheis is a doctoral student and lecturer at the University of Duisburg-Essen. After completing a year of social service in the field of cultural education, Lena Mattheis studied French and Anglophone Literature, as well as Media Studies, at the University of Duisburg-Essen (2010-2016). She finished her studies with an M.A. thesis on urban narratives in Namibia, which was researched during an internship at the University of Namibia in Windhoek. Her current research is focused on narratability and translocality in contemporary Anglophone novels. Her work has been published in Narrative, Transnational Literature and The Literary Encyclopedia.